Printable Version
Pronunciation: teem Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. To swarm, abound, throng, be vibrantly full. 2. (Regional, Northern UK) To pour, to empty, to dump; rain cats and dogs. 3. (Obsolete) Be pregnant, expectant.

Notes: The spelling of today's verb should not be confused with the noun team. Teemer is a dialectal term referring to someone who pours something. Teemful is a regional term, used in Jamaica, meaning "full to the brim".

In Play: The form of this word most prevalent is teeming: "Buskers look for streets, parks, squares, even subway stations that are teeming with people." It is still used in the UK to refer to a downpour: "Higglesworth defied the teeming rain and ploughed on to the 18th hole."

Word History: Although teem and team are spelled differently today, they share the same source via its Old English meanings "to birth, propagate" and "family, brood". The O-variant of PIE deuk-/douk- "to draw, drag, pull" ended up in Old Norse (Viking) as tomr "empty", which became tom in Swedish and tómur in Icelandic. It was also the origin of Latin duco "I lead, guide, conduct" and dux, ducis "leader", ultimate source of English duke, Albanian nduk "pluck, pull out", Welsh dygyd "to bring", Irish tugaim "I bring", and Norwegian toga "to drag, wear". Teem came from the E-variant, along with German ziehen "drag, pull".

Dr. Goodword,

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